Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme that currently resides at The Artsy Reader Girl and features bloggers sharing lists on various book topics. For this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, participants were supposed to list their top new-to-me authors that they read in 2022, however, I am going to do something differently here at The Unseen Library. I already completed and published this list last week as I knew in advance that I would be doing an alternate list today. The reason for this, and the reason I delayed putting this list up by a day, is because tomorrow, 26 January, is Australia Day, so I thought I would take this opportunity to once again highlight some of the top pieces of fiction written by Australian authors that I read in 2022.
Each year, a ton of talented Australian authors produce an impressive and exciting range of fiction from across the various genres, many of which I am lucky enough to get copies of from the local publishers. I tend to read and review a lot of novels by Australian authors, most of which turn out to be some outstanding reads that I deeply enjoy. As such, for the last few years on Australia Day I have taken to highlighting my favourite pieces of Australian fiction for the last few years (check out my 2019, 2020 and 2021 lists). I really love how much awesome Australian fiction there is now, and this list is the perfect way to highlight some of the best recent Australian authors.
Now I tend to take a bit of a different approach to Australian fiction than some other bloggers, as I focus on books written by Australian authors rather than novels purely set in Australia or featuring Australian casts. To qualify for this list, a novel had to be released in 2022 and written by an Australian author, which I am defining as anyone born in Australia or who currently lives here (Australia is very good at adopting talented people as our own). This resulted in a long list, including several novels that I considered to be some of the best reads of last year. I was eventually able to whittle this novel down to the absolute cream of the crop and came up with a fantastic top ten list (with my typical generous honourable mentions). I really enjoyed how this list turned out, especially as it features novels from a range of different genres, all of which were very awesome Australian books.
Following on from her brilliant 2021 thriller, Unforgiven, Sarah Barrie continued to impress with her dark and compelling new release, Retribution, which follows an unconventional rookie cop as she takes on the worst of Sydney’s underworld.
One of the hottest fantasy debuts of 2022, The Justice of Kings, was written by English expat turned Australian author Richard Swan. An excellent blend of fantasy fiction, political intrigue and crime fiction, The Justice of Kings lives up to its hype and comes highly recommended.
A gripping and truly unique cyberpunk thriller set in futuristic Hanoi, 36 Streets is a great read from an awesome Australian talent.
Kate Forsyth continued her dominance of the historical drama world with an amazing novel set on Crete during World War II. Providing a compelling examination of the Nazi occupation of Crete while following two Australian soldiers who both fall for the same woman, The Crimson Thread was an outstanding and powerful read that is really worth checking out.
Top Ten List:
Headcase by Jack Heath
Let’s start this list off with one of the best crime fiction books of 2022, the grizzly and deeply entertaining novel Headcase by the always impressive Jack Heath. Heath is swiftly becoming one of my absolute favourite authors, and his amazing books, Hideout and Kill Your Brother have appeared on my 2020 and 2021 top Australian book lists respectfully. His latest novel, Headcase, might be one of his best and while I still need to write a review for it, it is an exceptional read. Following Heath’s cannibalistic protagonist as he investigates the mysterious death of an apparent Chinese astronaut in the NASA facility in Houston, Headcase is a brilliant and shocking read that is an absolute blast from start to finish. I had so much wicked fun with this book, and it is a very worthy addition to this list.
The latest book from one of my favourite historical fiction authors, Peter Watt, is another easy inclusion on this list as he continues his outstanding Colonial series with Call of Empire. The fifth book in the Colonial series (which has previously featured The Queen’s Colonial, The Queen’s Tiger, The Queen’s Captain and The Colonial’s Son), Call of Empire continues to follow an intriguing Australian family whose members are drafted into several major wars towards the end of the 19th century. Providing an intriguing view at Australia’s earliest military actions, Call of Empire was another awesome action-adventure novel from Watt that is a ton of fun to read.
Talented Australian thriller writer Megan Goldin continued to impress in 2022 with another complex and powerful read, Stay Awake. Building on the success of such books as The Escape Room and The Night Swim, Stay Awake featured a unique story of a woman who awakens in New York covered in blood and with no memory of the last two years. Hunted by a killer and unsure of what has happened to her life, the protagonist must uncover who is behind the murders before she falls asleep and loses her memories once again. Clever, powerful and deeply intense, Stay Awake was another exceptional read from Goldin and I cannot wait to read her next book later this year.
Actor turned fantasy author Luke Arnold returned in 2022 with a particularly awesome urban fantasy novel, One Foot in the Fade. The third book in his Fetch Phillips series, One Foot in the Fade perfectly continues the story started in Arnold’s previous books The Last Smile in Sunder City and Dead Man in a Ditch. Set in a dark fantasy world where all the magic has been destroyed, One Foot in the Fade continues to follow Arnold’s damaged and obsessed protagonist, Fetch Phillips, as he tries to bring back the magic and save the former magical creatures he doomed. Taking the character on a deadly adventure where he battles monsters, greedy humans and his own dark determination, One Foot in the Fade was one of Arnold’s best books yet and I cannot wait to see how he continues to grow as an author.
Next up we have The Unbelieved by Vikki Petraitis, which was a very easy choice to include on this list. An extremely powerful and captivating read, The Unbelieved follows a tired detective who investigates a series of sexual assaults in a quiet Victorian town, only to come up against sexism, corruption, and a long-established code of silence. Petraitis did something really special with The Unbelieved and I was instantly hooked by its complex story and intense examinations of how sexual crimes are perceived by rural Australians. Not only was this one of the best debuts of 2022, but it also appeared on my top books of 2022 list as well. A highly recommended read from an exceptional new talent.
Another book by an Australian author that appeared on my top books of 2022 list was The German Wife by Kelly Rimmer. Rimmer, who deeply impressed me in 2021 with her outstanding novel, The Warsaw Orphan, once again dove into the darkness of Nazi Germany with The German Wife. Following the struggles of a German family transported to America as part of Operation Paperclip, The German Wife explores their complex life, from the prejudice they suffer in America for being former Nazis, to the terrible truth about how their country betrayed them and forced them to become monsters. One of the best historical dramas of 2022, The German Wife is such a great book, and I cannot wait to find out how Rimmer’s next book will break my heart in 2023.
While there were quite a few good Australian crime debuts in 2022, one of my favourites was the awesome and captivating Wake by Shelley Burr. Set in a dying rural town, Wake sees a private investigator and a damaged survivor attempt to solve an infamous mystery of a missing girl who disappeared from her bedroom years ago without anyone noticing. However, nothing is as it seems, and the characters are dragged through an emotional roller coaster as they attempt to discover the truth. An insanely great debut, Wake was an epic read with a very clever mystery to it.
Another hot debut of 2022 from an awesome new Australian author was the powerful and complex young adult fantasy book, Only a Monster by Vanessa Len. Following a teen protagonist who discovers she is really a monster who can travel through time, Only a Monster is a powerful and surprisingly dark read which I could not get enough of.
Few Australian crime fiction reads of 2022 contained as many shocks and intriguing examinations of gender as Daughters of Eve by debuting author Nina D. Campbell. A series of murders in Sydney quickly turns into a nation-wide crisis once it becomes known that violently abusive men are being killed off by a women’s movement known as the Daughters of Eve. Sharp, fast-paced, and featuring a cynical, if accurate, examination of how men would react in this situation, Daughters of Eve was an outstanding book from an amazing new talent.
The final Australian book on this list is the very fun and utterly hilarious murder mystery book, Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone by Benjamin Stevenson. Set at a very hostile family reunion in an isolated Australian ski resort, Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone is clever and addictive homage to classic whodunnits, only this time every suspect is already a killer in some way. Stevenson really taps into his comedy background to produce an amazingly entertaining novel that perfectly combines mystery, humour, and awesome references to the golden age of crime fiction. A masterful novel that perfectly showcases Stevenson’s talents as a rising Australian author.
Well, that is the end of this latest list and I am really happy that I got a chance to highlight some of the cool Australian releases of 2022. The above books represent an outstanding collection of fiction from talented Australian authors, and each of them comes highly recommended by me. I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I cannot wait to find out what the best Australian books of 2023 are going to be. Until then, stay tuned for more epic reviews and lists, and make sure you let me know who your favourite Australian authors are in the comments below.